There was outcry from the public gallery as councillors voted to approve Butlin’s plans for a ‘staff hostel’ in Aldwick.
Protesters against the planning application, to turn a former care home into accommodation for 70 of the resort’s employees, had also gathered outside the Arun District offices before the meeting today (August 10).
Two members of the Aldwick Neighbourhood Group spoke as part of the committee’s considerations, expressing concerns over noise, parking and ‘intensification’ at the site, if approved.
They added the measures to prevent the former ‘are not worth the paper it is written on’, while houses of multiple occupancies (HMO) were branded a ‘menace’ that had ‘no place in Aldwick’.
Group member Deborah Martin sought to bring attention to the ‘justifiable and substantial objections’, highlighting the 165 letters that had been submitted.
She also, queried how the proposed ‘glorified caretaker’ would be able to oversee so many people, views later echoed by councillor Barbara Oakley,
Butlin’s resort director, Jeremy Pardey, also spoke.
He said how be believed it was ‘important to have a good relationship with the local community’ and spoke of a ‘congregation agreement’ all of the house’s residents would have to abide by.
Councillor Jim Brooks expressed his view it was a commercial prospect for Butlin’s, not strictly residential, as it ‘allows them to have more profit making space’.
A similar perspective was taken by councillor Richard Bower, who said: “Just because they need housing improvements on site doesn’t mean we have to grant them planning permission elsewhere.”
He added it was only deemed a HMO for ‘technical reasons’, stating ‘what is actually is, is a staff hostel’.
However, he said: “I do feel something has to be done with Ashley House, it has been empty for a long time.
“I do want to see it passed but I think work needs to be done.”
As a result he invited Butlin’s to withdraw the plans in order to resolve the issues it presented.
Councillor Phil Hitchens warned ‘the problems are being overstated’.
While councillor John Charles stated: “I can see plenty of emotional objections, but I can’t see any planning objections.”